"The question, 'what is Wuerzburger' has been answered."
Rick Sinner no doubt sat up a little straighter in his chair when he came across the mention while paging through back issues of the Daily Camera at the Carnegie Branch Library in Boulder.
Published in the Aug. 12, 1903, edition of the newspaper, the advertisement goes on to claim that the new beer from Crystal Springs Brewing & Ice Co. "is is the freshest, foamiest, liveliest, pleasantest beer seen in Boulder ... and a development of the brewer's art calculated to delight and please all who love beer."
An avid collector of local business memorabilia and artifacts, Sinner is working his way through the Daily Camera archives in search of nuggets of information and old advertisements that help tell the story of Boulder County through its commerce.
"One of the greatest places to find historical information is in the newspaper, because they wrote about everything," he said.
When Sinner saw the item about Crystal Springs' Wuerzburger beer, he immediately thought of his friend Tom Horst, a fellow teacher at Boulder High School and founder of Crystal Springs Brewing Co., which is named after the historic Boulder brewery.
Only a few days earlier, a local man had given Horst an old beer bottle he'd found in the crawl space beneath his father's home in Boulder. The paper label, still intact, was inscribed: "Wuerzburger, Crystal Springs Brewing & Ice Co., Boulder, Colo.," and now Sinner had happened upon a published description of the beer.
"Everyone was so excited about that bottle," Sinner said. "I couldn't wait to call Tom and (his wife) Kristy and say, 'You're not going to believe what I found in the Daily Camera today.' "
The bottle, along with the description, inspired Horst to investigate further and to re-create the beer as best he could using ingredients that would have been readily available to brewers at the original Crystal Springs.
"I've always been fascinated by earlier beer styles," said Horst, a longtime homebrewer. "Everything in the description and other clues pointed back to a Helles Bock, which was a very popular style at that time."
Horst sourced Colorado-grown barley from the Colorado Malting Co. in Alamosa, which roasted a Munich Malt specifically for the project, as well as Crystal hops from Niwot Hop Farm, which "were grown extensively around here at that time," Horst said.
The beer, the first in Crystal Springs' Original Series, has been well received by modern beer drinkers. The first batch of Wuerzburger sold out, and the brewery soon will release a second batch on tap in its Louisville tasting room, 657 S. Taylor Ave., Unit E, as well as locally in 22-ounce bottles. Wuerzburger, along with many other Crystal Springs beers, also will be available during a tap takeover Aug. 7 at The West End Tavern, 926 Pearl St., Boulder.
"This is a re-creation of the description, not necessarily the real beer," Horst is quick to point out. "But I like to think that when you drink the beer the description comes through. It's reverse engineering."
The original Crystal Springs Brewery & Ice Co. wasn't Boulder's first brewery, but it was among the most prominent. Founded in 1876 as the Boulder City Brewing Co., the brewery operated in the area bordered roughly by the west end of Pearl Street to where Alfalfa's Market is today at Broadway and Arapahoe, Horst said.
The site included a malting house, cooperage, stables, brewery, bottling house, a man-made lake fed by Crystal Springs and an ice house. The brewery pulled water from Boulder Creek to brew its beer and had a warehouse in Denver from which it distributed in Colorado and a handful of other states.
The brewery also sold ice cut from its lake and even published early advertisements for bottled water, Sinner said. When Boulder went dry in 1907 — ahead of Prohibition — Crystal Springs was allowed to distribute its beer by home delivery for private consumption.
While Horst is intrigued by the idea of door-to-door deliveries, he's sticking with the Original Series for now as a way to resurrect a piece of Boulder history that's sure to delight and please all who love beer.
Contact Tom Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.